Republican state Rep. Matt Grossell is a former Clearwater County sheriff's deputy from the tiny town of Clearbrook (pop. 529), northwest of Bemidji. So one might forgive him for tying one on at the Best Western bar in St. Paul, away from the prying eyes of constituents.
Yet on one night in May, Grossell overshot his powers of endurance. Hotel security was called to retrieve a belligerent, hammered guy who was slumped over at the bar. It would take multiple attempts by guard Jared Cloward to get him to leave.
After some shoving and drunken aggression, Cloward finally wrestled Grossell back to his room. But he was so hammered that the hotel worried for his safety. Police were summoned for a welfare check.
They arrived to find our hero incoherent and sweating profusely. Worried he couldn't care for himself – and also realizing the delicate nature of leaving a state rep to his own devices in this state – police took him to Regions Hospital.
Doctors quickly diagnosed him as exceptionally pickled. He was offered a cab ride home.
Alas, Grossell doesn't appear to fall on the happy drunk side of the intoxication spectrum. He refused to leave, repeatedly asking why he'd been admitted, and inexplicably demanded a pair of Crocs. Police and security were called, but Grossell remained belligerent. After 45 minutes of wrangling, he was finally arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Grossell's mood wouldn't improve from there. He remained aggressive throughout his arrest, then told St. Paul police there would be “hell to pay” upon his release.
In June, a deal was reached whereby Grossell would complete a six-month diversion program, pay $150, and do 16 hours of community service in exchange for having the charges dismissed. Yet that wouldn't be the end of it.
Yesterday, Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) stripped him of his assignments on the Public Safety and Judiciary committees. Hortman seemed willing to forget most of the affair, save for Grossell's attempt to bigfoot St. Paul police. Telling the cops you're a state rep, and there would be “hell to pay” for your arrest, seemed to her an “implied threat.” And you can't oversee Minnesota's police and judiciary when you make such threats.
Great harrumphing ensued, though it seemed rather divorced from the facts at hand. “Matt overcame adversity at great courage,” his lawyer, Ryan Garry, told the Star Tribune. “He should be applauded, not demoted.”
“This is the latest example of House Democrats’ outright hostility for law enforcement,” wailed House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).
Of course, Grossell only has himself to blame. Had he merely chosen to be a happy drunk, the entire night would have made just another good bar story to add to his repertoire.